Civil Defense volunteers block a Beirut road after the Cabinet failed to approve a decree that would make them full-time employees. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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However, ministers failed to endorse a decree that would have made Civil Defense volunteers full-time employees, despite promises by Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk that such action would be taken during Tuesday's session.Following the Cabinet meeting, Machnouk sought to placate the Civil Defense volunteers, promising that the decree would be approved at next week's session.Ministerial sources said Machnouk proposed during the Cabinet session increasing the price of 20 liters of gasoline, currently selling at about LL20,000, by LL3,000 to fund the costs of making the estimated 2,400 Civil Defense volunteers full-time employees. Berri, who had indicated he was not optimistic about the election of a president on Feb. 8 due to a lack of quorum, said members of his bloc would attend the session, and if there were a quorum, he would enter the hall to open the electoral session. He stressed, however, that a two-thirds quorum, or 86 of Parliament's 128 members, should be secured to convene the session. Because of tight time, the Cabinet could not discuss other items on the agenda, including Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi's demand from outside the agenda to refer Samaha's case to the Judicial Council, Joreige said. The Cabinet decided to hold two sessions next week, on Wednesday and Thursday.
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